After the baseball debacle of last summer, you'd think I'd have learned my lesson regarding picking my kids activities for them. Those three months were among the hardest of my son's life, and were perhaps even more painful for my husband and me. My son told me he didn't want to sign up. And whether it was wishful thinking he'd discover his inner Ryan Braun (minus the steroids thing), or perhaps my latent sadomasochistic streak, I signed him up anyway.
Every at bat was excruciating, and after the final strike out of the season I swore to myself I'd forever let the kids take the lead on their activity choices from that day on.
As it turns out I was, as I am so often prone to do, lying to myself. Because as my inbox is deluged daily with more after school lessons, weekend enrichment opportunities and summer camps (in February?) than I have the children, cash or carpooling ability to take advantage of, I am finding myself wanting to make gentle suggestions, if not downright demands, on what they should be getting involved in.
For example, the baseball-hater has informed me that this spring will likely mark the end of his rather non-illustrious soccer career. And I am perfectly okay with that. Neither of us is very good at keeping track of multiple pairs of shoes, especially ones with little pointy spikes on the bottom. But what I really think he's trying to tell me is that he'd like to be done with sports forever. And I am not sure I'm okay with that. The kid has a tremendous amount of sixth-grade-boy energy and it has to be burned off somewhere that isn't the living room. I'm pretty flexible. He could try something solo, like golf. Or something exotic, like capoeira , the Brazilian martial art. Or even something like archery. But he has to do something physical---my choice, not his.
And my desire to steer the "activity boat" is even more pronounced with my nine-year-old. I am sure it's some Freudian mother/daughter thing, but it bothers me how much I want her to like the same things that I liked as a kid. So I'm pushing for another crack at sleepaway camp this summer. Or at least a local day camp. I want her to ride horses, swim in a lake and make lanyards out of gymp.
But she doesn’t want to hear about nature walks or campfires. She just wants to take art classes. Not arts and crafts classes, mind you -- she doesn't seem to have my same undying respect for the friendship bracelet. Instead, she's looking for instruction in figure drawing, watercolor painting and sculpting. Sure, a mom can hope that her little girl may yet discover the joy of cabin life. But I guess I should be counting my blessings that she has a great place to learn the stuff she's interested in, right down the street.
Monroe Street Fine Arts Center , celebrating its 15th anniversary this month, is a pretty happening place. From the guitar and violin lessons my kids never quite took to, to open art studios, to the fine art instruction my daughter is clamoring for, the Center offers a great opportunity for kids to indulge their creativity. And I don't doubt for a second my daughter would be just as happy learning to paint landscapes as horseback riding through them this coming summer.
So perhaps I've learned my lesson. And I will let her take the lessons she really wants to take.
And I'm sure I could ask the director of MSFAC if they'd consider a class in gymp or macramé.comments powered by Disqus
The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.
I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.
Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.
The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.
Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.
For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.
The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.